It’s a weird thing to want to shout from the rooftops, but sometimes I feel like I should: I love place cards at dinner parties and events!
They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be printed on fancy cards; they can be written on scraps of paper. When I was a child, my mom had me paint rocks from our backyard with nail polish and she’d neatly write our guests’ names on top of my pre-Picasso designs. They can be printed from computers or handwritten sloppily; they can have fonts that match the decor of the event or — gasp! — they can be in Times New Roman.
All that matters is that they have people’s names on them and they avoid awkwardness.
I love hosting Shabbat dinners and lunches, but even with only eight or 12 people in a room, it can be awkward. Where should we sit? Does the hostess have a specific place she likes to sit? How do we seat couples together and frenemies apart? What about people who are going to want to help in the kitchen — they should sit on the side closest to the kitchen, right? Where do we sit if we don’t want to help in the kitchen?
This is where the beauty of the place card comes in. I, the hostess, will devote some thought into the seating for an optimal event. I’ll write out guests’ names and place them in appropriate spots. Then when the guests arrive, there’s no stress. They just come in, find their name, have a seat, and enjoy the best darn dinner they’ve ever had both in terms of food and conversation. All thanks to some Post-It Notes and a Sharpie.
Some people think it can be too formal for just a casual dinner with friends; but in a world that is filled with truly so much awkwardness, I’ll try to alleviate it wherever I can.
So next time you come over for a Shabbat meal — and if you’re a regular reader of my blog AND you’ve made it to the end of this post, you certainly deserve to come over for a meal! — let me make it easy for you and show you to your seat. But when it comes to making sure I don’t have too much leftover food — that’s all you.